After Kashmiri Pandits heartwarming wishes on Eid, Muslims reciprocate on Kheer Bhawani
Hindu-Muslim bonhomie has gone viral on social media following Eid greetings of Kashmiri Pandits to Kashmiri Muslims, who reciprocated on Saturday on the occasion of Mela Kheer Bhawani, one of the biggest religious functions of the Kashmiri Pandits.
The newfound bonding between the two communities, bound by a shared culture and separated only by religion, is reminiscent of the pre-militancy days in the Kashmir Valley before 1989.
“I vividly remember when the situation was peaceful. I live in a lane at Chanapora (in Srinagar), where almost every house belonged to the Pandits and only a few to Muslims. There was so much love and brotherhood in those days. We used to live like a family; Pupa, Kaki, Buel (a person with blue eyes), Rajae, Sundur, Beti, all these were our neighbours,” says Javeed Shah, a Srinagar resident, in chaste Kashmiri in an endearing video.
The annual Mela Kheer Bhawani is the biggest Hindu festival in Jammu & Kashmir after the Amarnath Yatra. But this year, the celebrations are muted because of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak. Eid, too, couldn’t be celebrated because of strict compliance of social distancing norms due to the pandemic. Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits from J&K and outside visit every year to pray at the temple of Kheer Bhawani that houses Hindu goddess Ragnya Devi at Tulmulla village in Ganderbal, about 27 kilometres away from Srinagar.
“Mubarak to you on the big occasion of Tulmulla (the place where Kheer Bhawani temple is located). May you always smile and be happy,” greets Dr. Ommid in a video.
Many Pandits were overwhelmed by the gesture.
“Thanks for wonderful gesture. May Mata Rani blesses all of us with good health, prosperity, and peace,” says Roop Krishan Raina in a social media post.
The video was uploaded by Amit Wanchoo, a doctor and social activist, who had earlier uploaded a video of Kashmiri Pandits greeting Kashmiri Muslims with Eid Mubarak.
“May almighty bless everybody with happiness, peace, and health,” says Suneel Wattal in the video.
Another video wishing the Kashmir Pandits Mubarak on Mela Kheer Bhawani was shared by The Mashq Talks on social media.
“Mela Kheer Bhawani Mubarak to all our Pandit brothers. Be happy and thriving,” says Farhana Bhat, an artist.
Local Kashmiri Muslims took care of the Kheer Bhawani shrine after the exodus of a majority of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley during the first wave of militancy in 1990.
The temple has attracted more devotees since 2008, as the militancy waned.
There was no congregation at the temple this year, Farooq Ahmad, tehsildar, Tullmulla, said.
“A few devotees have been praying since Friday evening as per the custom, which will end on Saturday evening. No mela could be held this year because of the pandemic,” he said.
“One of the best things about religions is festivals & the best thing about festivals is culture. Sadly, the Kheer Bhawani festival couldn’t happen this year. Jyestha Ashthami Greetings,” said Shahid Choudhary, deputy commissioner, Srinagar, in a social media post.